Hate Groups Increase Nationwide in 2008; Decline in Michigan

Hate Groups Rise Nationwide in 2008

A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center documents a continued rise in the number of hate groups in the United States.

The organization says that in 2008 there 926 hate groups active in the United States. These groups range from neo-Nazi skinheads to Ku Klux Klan groups. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has grown from 602 in 2000 to 926 in 2008.

The organization sees the potential for a further increase in hate groups–which were motivated in the past few years by the debate over immigration–with the election of President Barack Obama and the continued economic crisis.

This year, the report lists 23 hate groups in Michigan, down from 26 last year

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s report comes a few days after a government report that raised the prospect of an increase in rightwing extremism and violence.

Panel Discussion Explores Police Responses to White Supremacist Rallies in Michigan

At yesterday’s “Michigan Response to Hate: Building United Communities” conference in Lansing a panel discussion was held on “demonstrations” by white supremacist groups. The panel provided a rare inside look at how police plan for counter-protests.

At yesterday’s “Michigan Response to Hate: Building United Communities” conference in Lansing organized by the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, a panel discussion was held on “Demonstrations.” The expressed intent of the panel was help community leaders, non-profits, and law enforcement officials “organize and prepare for scheduled and spontaneous demonstrations involving hate and bias incidents, organized hate groups, and counter protestors.” The panel featured two members of local law enforcement and provided an interesting “inside” look at how governments have handled security preparations for white supremacist rallies following the 2005 Toledo riot.

The first speaker on the panel was Darlene Sweeney-Newbern of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission who talked at length about the riot that took place in October of 2005 in Toledo when the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) attempted to march through a residential neighborhood. Sweeney-Newbern explained that the community and police failed to prevent the riot by meeting only with whom they perceived to be leaders rather than those respected in the community as leaders and by allowing the neo-Nazis to march in a neighborhood. This allowed the Nazis to exploit existing tensions in the neighborhood and when the Nazis appeared chanting the same racial slurs that the police in the community frequently used, people quickly directed the protest towards the police after forcing the Nazis to retreat. Sweeney-Newbern pointed out that two buildings destroyed in the riot were specifically targeted with a bar burned because it had a reputation as being for “whites only” and a gas station being damaged because employees had a history of treating African-Americans “horribly.” She presented a fairly complex analysis of what caused the riot, understanding that it was far more than being simply a “violent rampage” as it has often been portrayed in the media. However, she fell into the trap of blaming the violence on the “anarchists and agitators” who are “not any better than the ones marching [the Nazis].”

The next speaker was Mark Alley who is the Chief of Police at the Lansing Police Department. Alley spoke at length about security preparations for the April 2006 NSM rally in Lansing. Alley explained that the Lansing Police Department learned extensively from what happened at the October 2005 event in Toledo as well as another rally that happened in December of 2005. Alley said that his department learned that they could respect First Amendment rights by restricting the time, place, and manner of the Nazis’ speech and consequently chose to restrict the Nazis to speaking at the steps of the capitol. The police further setup an “event participation zone” that excluded vehicles and required people entering to pass through a metal detector. Along with this, they positioned 575 police officers and required the Nazis to meet at a secure location to be bussed into the city. At the same time, the Lansing Police Department pursued an aggressive media and public relations strategy of working to dissuade people from protesting the Nazis. The strategy also included the Lansing Police Department asking businesses to close in the downtown area as well as sponsoring a “diversity celebration” to draw people away from the protests. Alley described the event as a “success” from his perspective with only 16 arrests, minor injuries, and little property damage. He made no mention of the fact that none of the charges stuck.

Captain Gregory A. Krusinga of the Michigan State Police also talked about this model as it was applied at the recent white supremacist rally in Kalamazoo. Krusinga explained that the white supremacists wanted to drive a wedge in the community and that to prevent that the Kalamazoo police decided to implement a controlled “event zone” similar to what was used in the December 2005 rally in Toledo and the April 2006 rally in Toledo. He told the audience how fences were positioned in a manner that made it impossible to throw missiles at the speakers or between the “supporter” and “protestor” cages. Additionally, Michigan State Police officers were dispersed throughout the surrounding neighborhood to “diffuse” tensions. Krusinga also explained that the media was helpful in making the event a “non-event.” He further told the audience that they “knew” that some supporters wanted to confront Nazi sympathizers so that following the end of the rally the city of Kalamazoo let the protestors march without a permit in order to prevent a conflict. Krusinga explained that overall, the protest was “actually a pretty good demonstration” and that the event was a success with only four arrests.

Also speaking on the panel was Sheri Wander of the Michigan Peace Team. Wander talked about how “peace teams” have been used to diffuse violence at protests against white supremacists over the past ten years in Michigan. She shared stories of how peace teams have prevented protestors from violently attacking white supremacists and argued that they have had success in deterring violence. She explained that the highly militarized police response is in itself an act of violence that essentially says that the police do not trust citizens to respond how they see fit. On a similar note, Valerie Newman of the National Lawyers Guild talked about how the Guild provides legal and direct action training. She also explained how the Guild could interface with police and work to make sure that people know the legal consequences of the decisions that they make at protests, although she said that ultimately the police can simply do “whatever they want.”

Racists Planning Rally in Kalamazoo

A “Rally Against Black Gang Terrorism” has been announced for August 4 in Kalamazoo. It is being organized by the nationally known racist Hal Turner and features a line-up of speakers inclluding Michigan-based members of the Ku Klux Klan and the Creativity Movement. An open invitation has been extended by Turner to most prominent racist organizations in the United States.

anti-racist action logo

A group of white supremacists and other racists are planning a rally in Kalamazoo, Michigan on August 4. The rally–to be held at a currently undisclosed location–is being billed as a “Rally Against Black Gang Terrorism” in response to allegations of attacks on white males by groups of African-Americans.

The rally is being organized by Hal Turner, a nationally known racist who hosts an Internet radio show and who has a history of making extremely racist statements. Even on the comments thread announcing the rally, Turner argues that “Kalamazoo doesn’t need a White Patrol, just a couple Lynchings” in response to a query about whether or not there are White Citizen’s Patrols in Kalamazoo to protect white people until the rally. Turner has extended an invitation to most racist groups to participate in the rally, including the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist Movement, the Aryan Nations, White Revolution, the National Alliance, the National Vanguard, the Creativity Movement, and members of the prominent racist website Stormfront.org. Turner will speak at the rally along with other prominent racists including Alex Linder of the racist Vanguard News Network, Michigan-based Pastor James Wickstrom of the racist Christian Identity movement, and Paul Gellar, a talk show host on Hal Turner’s internet radio network. Additionally, a Ku Klux Klan member from Michigan, Randy Gray, will speak at the rally.

At this time, no protest plans have been announced, but it is likely that the rally will be met with significant opposition. Over the past decade, rallies organized by the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist Movement, the Council of Conservative Citizens, and other racist groups in Michigan have been largely drowned out by protestors. A 2006 rally at the capitol in Lansing by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement had only 60 NSM members compared to as many as 500 protestors.

The rally announcement appearing on Hal Turner’s website:

“RALLY AGAINST BLACK GANG TERRORISM”

IN KALAMAZOO, MI

15 ATTACKS BY BLACKS AGAINST WHITES CALLS FOR PRO-WHITE RALLY

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: SAT. AUGUST 4, 2007 1:00 PM!

The story which prompted this rally is linked below. Additional rally details as to specific location, hotel, motel, maps etc will be upcoming on this site.

Confirmed Speakers include:

Alex Linder of VNN

Pastor James. P. Wickstrom

Paul Gellar, host of “Think Tank” Radio Show on TRN

Hal Turner

Randy Gray from Michigan

FORMAL PUBLIC INVITATION

I have reached out to NSM, AN, KKK and a host of other speakers. I am now also publicly inviting:

The American National Socialist Workers Party and their Commander, Bill White who is also invited to give speech at the event. I want to use this occasion to put the past behind us, mend fences and get back to the issues we both know need fighting for the benefit of White folks.

In addition, I am also publicly inviting members of Stormfront including Jamie Kelso and Don Black both of whom are also invited to give speeches.

I also invite ALL SKINHEADS, regardless of affiliation or geographic location.

Continuing with the public invitations, I invite WHITE REVOLUTION and its founder Billy Roper who is invited to give a speech.

I invite members of the National Alliance and members of National Vanguard.

I have already confirmed that members of the CREATIVITY MOVEMENT support this effort and are coming. Creators are welcome to attend and I urge Creators in the Chicago area to use this event to reinvigorate your local crews after some troubles set you apart for awhile.

Finally, I invite all other pro-White groups not heretofore mentioned, and all unaffiliated pro-white individuals. I mean no disrespect by omitting group names, but all of you know the list can get huge!

Dress Code:

I prefer all attendess dress in regular, casual clothing. Whether you choose to wear organizational clothing or regalia is strictly up to you but for the benefit of everyone, let’s keep the dress code to what we as typical, hard-working Whites usually wear.

SIGNS:

You are encouraged to bring large signs expressing your views. Refrain from attaching those signs to any kind of stick or pole because sticks and poles can be used as weapons and we don’t want any of that.

WEAPONS:

If you hold a valid permit to carry a firearm, you may exercise your right to do so if it conforms with Michigan state law. Otherwise, DO NOT bring any weapons of any type. I’m certain there will be a huge police presence and we want the cops to feel safe. After all, WE aren’t the problem, the savages ARE!

Personality Conflicts:

There are a lot of strong personalities in our movement and as I can personally attest, some of us may not feel comfortable around certain others. I am putting aside any animosity I may have and if I can do it, we all can. So please don’t be put off by who is or might be coming. We must put all petty differences aside for the benefit of the cause.

For more on organized racism in Michigan, visit Media Mouse’s the Far Right in West Michigan database.

SPLC Releases Annual “Year in Hate” Review, Includes List of “Hate Groups” in Michigan

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released its annual “Year in Hate” report, documenting 844 hate groups in the United States. Of these 844 hate groups, 25 are located in Michigan.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published its annual “Year in Hate” review. According to its research, there are now a total of 844 hate groups in the United States, a rise of 5% over the year before. This number is a 40% increase since 2000, with the Southern Poverty Law Center attributing much of this increase to the use of immigration as an issue to gain recruits. While much of the white supremacist right has been in disarray with infighting, deaths of old leaders, and no single group dominating the scene, there has been a “breathtakingly rapid rise of a right-wing anti-immigration movement made up of groups that are xenophobic but mostly stop short of the open racial hatred espoused by hate groups.” The report cites the formation of 250 nativist groups since 2005 and argues that these groups are becoming more violent.

Along with their annual review of hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has updated their “Hate Group Map” that documents hate groups across the United States. According to that map, Michigan is home to 25 hate groups (the second highest total in the Midwest after Ohio) encompassing groups ideologically aligned with the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, white nationalist, Christian Identity, and “black separatist” movements. The latter category, has been a subject of some contention within the left, with some arguing that groups such as the Nation of Islam and other “black separatist” groups should not be included amongst historically violent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. In response to these criticism, the Southern Poverty Law Center states that it “recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism” and as such must be confronted.

Many of the groups listed in Michigan have been written about and profiled by Media Mouse over the past year as part of our “Far Right in West Michigan” database. Among the groups listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Media Mouse has documented activities by the Council of Conservative Citizens, the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist Movement, and Young Americans for Freedom. In addition, we have also documented activities by groups not mentioned in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report including the Heartside Boot Boyz, the European American Association, and the Nazi Low Riders.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s report also mentions the connections between the racist Council of Conservative Citizens and the anti-affirmative action Proposal 2 (Michigan Civil Rights Initiative) that was passed in Michigan. The report states:

Last fall, the CCC’s Michigan chapter head, the Rev. John Raternik, allied with Ward Connerly, a well-known black conservative, to back a state referendum to ban affirmative action. Connerly rejected calls to denounce the CCC, which has referred to blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity.” The ban passed.

While the report is correct to cite the Council of Conservative Citizens as one of the few groups in Michigan supporting Proposal 2 (the other being the Ku Klux Klan), it gives too much credit to the Council of Conservative Citizens for their “role” in the passage of the measure. Aside from a rally overshadowed by protestors and a letter writing campaign that resulted in a few letters printed in newspapers, the Council of Conservative Citizens did little organizing around the issue. It also neglected to mention that Connerly made a weak public dismissal of the Council of Conservative Citizens in the media, although he did praise the Ku Klux Klan later in the campaign.

The report officially lists the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, the first student group to be listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was added to the list in response to its anti-gay and anti-immigrant actions, as well as its efforts to eliminate organizations of color on Michigan State University’s campus.

Nazi Gang Graffiti in Grand Rapids’ Belknap Lookout Neighborhood

A wave of gang graffiti connected to the Nazi Low Riders–a violent prison and street gang with origins in California–has been documented in Grand Rapids’ Belknap Lookout neighborhood. It is the second wave of Nazi graffiti in Grand Rapids in the past several months.

A number of swastikas, appearing either alone or with the letters “NLR” have been observed in Grand Rapids’ Belknap Lookout neighborhood. The “NLR” letters stand for “Nazi Low Riders” and are a reference to a prison and street gang that has its origins in California’s youth penal system. While it is impossible to say if the graffiti indicates the presence of an actual group affiliated with the Nazi Low Riders, it is the second time in the past several months that a wave of Nazi graffiti has been documented in Grand Rapids. In October of 2006, graffiti associated with the white supremacist White Aryan Resistance movement was documented in downtown’s Heartside neighborhood.

As is the case with all neo-Nazi and white supremacist activity, the graffiti should be taken seriously, especially in light of the Nazi Low Riders historical involvement in violent attacks against people of color. In March of 1999, two members of the Nazi Low Riders in Lancaster, California murdered an African-American Wal-Mart employee with a screwdriver. In 1996, another Nazi Low Riders member beat an African-American teenager as part of a “mission” to “rid the streets of Lancaster of African Americans.” A similar attack took place in 1996, when five members of the gang attacked a 12-year old Hispanic male in a video arcade. Multiple attacks took place in 1995, with members attacking two African-American teenagers with machetes, bludgeoning an African-American homeless man to death, and firing a gun at car occupied by African-Americans.

The group was formed in the late 1970s by white supremacist John Stinson, himself affiliated with the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, at the California Youth Authority at the Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Ione and at the Youth Training School in Chino, California. Until the 1990s, the Nazi Low Riders functioned as middlemen for the Aryan Brotherhood and engaged in criminal operations affiliated with that gang, but took a more prominent role in prison violence and the drug trade following aggressive law enforcement targeting of the Aryan Brotherhood. In addition to violent attacks towards people of color within prison, members of the Nazi Low Riders have been active in the drug trade and have been especially active in the production and distribution of methamphetamine. The group has spread eastward throughout the United States as members have been paroled, although its stronghold remains in California. Estimates of membership exceeded 1,500 before a crackdown on several of its leaders in 2003. It has also formed alliances the Public Enemy Number 1 white supremacist gang and other racist gangs.

Despite occasional violent attacks, the Nazi Low Riders are not an overtly political gang according to research done by various law enforcement agencies, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Anti-Defamation League. These entities have found that while white supremacy is a component of the Nazi Low Riders’ activities, they are more of a criminal enterprise than an ideological one. NLR members rarely have ties to the political racist movement, exemplified by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups such as the National Socialist Movement, nor do they have ties to the more political skinhead gangs such as the Hammerskin Nation. However, members are required to demonstrate “loyalty” to the white race, occasionally through violence against people of color. Interestingly, the group has allowed Latinos to affiliate and has made alliances with Latino gangs, although Latino members allegedly must be “half Caucasian.” The white supremacist movement has also been skeptical of the Nazi Low Riders and has frequently rejected them for being reckless and lacking a coherent ideology, while others have said that there is “nothing Nazi about them” and bemoaning the fact that Nazi Low Riders simply “hate black people” rather than articulating a developed ideological framework.

In addition to previous incidents of Nazi graffiti in Grand Rapids, it is important to place the Nazi Low Riders graffiti within the overall context of activity by the racist right in West Michigan. In recent years, local groups affiliated with the National Socialist Movement, the National Alliance, and the Council of Conservative Citizens have distributed racist literature and organized demonstrations.

Nazi Graffiti in Grand Rapids Tied to White Supremacist Movement

A recent increase in Nazi graffiti in Grand Rapids has been tied to the racist White Aryan Resistance (WAR) movement, a white supremacist group that has a long history both of advocating and using physical violence.

A recent wave of Nazi graffiti in downtown Grand Rapids is tied to the organized white supremacist movement according to research conducted by Media Mouse. The graffiti, primarily consisting of swastikas and the letters “WAR,” is connected to the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) movement as well as a new group that appears to have formed in the Heartside area, the Heartside Boot Boyz. The Heartside Boot Boyz graffiti is accompanied by either a swastika or the logo for the World War II era Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS). The graffiti is part of an increase in neo-Nazi and white supremacist activity in the state of Michigan over the past two years. In April, the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) held their national in convention in Grand Rapids and a national rally in Lansing. The NSM has been active across the state, including in Grand Rapids, conducting a variety of leafleting and recruiting actions. The National Alliance has also been active in Michigan, as has the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist group that has organized against immigrants and in support of the anti-affirmative action Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI).

However, unlike these membership organizations, less is known about the activities of White Aryan Resistance and the Heartside Boot Boyz. White Aryan Resistance is a neo-Nazi and white supremacist organization that formed in the 1983 by former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon and influential racist Tom Metzger. In addition to being involved with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)—work that placed him in prison for 45 days in 1982 for burning a cross—Metzger has been involved with the John Birch Society and was ordained as a minister by the New Christian Crusade Church, a church involved in the white supremacist Christian Identity movement. White Aryan Resistance, while less influential than it once was, has long been a major force in the racist right. Metzger was one of the first white supremacists to organize racist skinheads in the 1980s, has been involved in the international skinhead movement, has organized extensively within the United States’ prison population, operates The Insurgent self-described as the “most racist newspaper on earth,” has made extensive use of new forms of media (computer bulletin board systems in the 1980s, public access television in the early 1990s, and the Internet in the mid-1990s), and has articulated a form of fascism known as “Third Position” that is neither rightist or leftist, rejecting both capitalism and communism. This “Third Position” ideology seeks to overthrow the United States government and replace it with a nation built around a white supremacist ideology, while also distorting leftwing politics, with White Aryan Resistance describing itself as revolutionary and supporting “white working class” militancy including opposition to United States military actions abroad, supporting union activity, women’s rights (to a certain degree), and advocating for environmentalist policies. Of course, the racism is obvious in Metzger’s Third Position fascism, with the Nazi imagery, racist cartoons and “jokes,” and declarations that “WAR is strictly racist” and that race is the primary issue. However, despite its obvious racism, Third Position ideology is a serious threat as its adherents often attempt to organize working-class youth directly while many left or “progressive” movements ignore such populations, while white supremacists ideologies appear to provide a potential outlet for their anger.

The strategy of White Aryan Resistance and Tom Metzger is one that has both the potential for and a history of violence. Beginning with his work in the Klan in the 1970s, Metzger led his followers towards violence by organizing armed Klan patrols to capture undocumented immigrants along the United States-Mexico border. Metzger organized an armed “security” force that operated for the Klan and clashed with police and anti-Klan demonstrators. The Anti-Defamation League asserts that Metzger also trained Klan members in guerilla warfare and paramilitary activities. The rhetoric of Metzger and his White Aryan Resistance movement, whose The Insurgent newspaper bears the slogan “the most racist newspaper on earth,” has occasionally incited adherents to violence. Perhaps the most famous case was in 1988 when a skinhead gang in Portland, Oregon, murdered an Ethiopian student after being trained by a White Aryan Resistance recruiter. Metzger praised the incident, claiming that the skinheads were doing their “civic duty” (source). Metzger was eventually found responsible for this killing and a jury awarded $12.5 million in damages to the family of the murdered student, a fine that Metzger continues to pay. Metzger has also praised actions such as racially motivated killings by individuals.

While the Portland case reduced White Aryan Resistance’s influence, Metzger has continued to develop it into a loose network for white supremacists and still advocates a violent white supremacy. However, instead of continuing to function as a membership organization, Metzger and White Aryan Resistance now advocate “lone wolf” attacks by racists against the system as part of a “leaderless resistance.” This activity, which cannot be traced as easily by law enforcement officials, has become prominent in some areas of the white supremacist movement, with white supremacists adopting the idea of individual or small group activity in order to avoid state repression. White Aryan Resistance also urges white supremacist activists acting under the White Aryan Resistance banner to never talk to the police and posts tips for dealing with the police and avoiding state harassment on their website.

Protester of neo-nazi rally found not guilty of 2 felony charges

After a two-day trial, a protestor arrested at the anti-nazi protest in Lansing on April 22, 2006 was found not guilty of two felony charges.

written by: (A)ndy of Dein Haus Collective

After an intense 2 day jury trial, anti-racist activist Jacquelyn Winkler was found Not guilty of either of two felony charges placed on her during a protest against the national socialist movement (a neo-nazi group) on April 22nd 2006. The Lansing police charged Jacquelyn with Assault of an officer, resisting arrest, and attempting to disarm a police officer. Lansing needed to win this case because of the amount of money and effort spent to protect the nazis. There were approximately 500 fully armed police officers, many in full body riot gear. Thirty police vehicles escorted and protected the nazis bus. At the protest site massive fences spanning all the way around the capitol lawn separated the boneheads from the community. Protesters were told that to get close to the capitol lawn, they had to demonstrate inside of a “protest pen”. To get in you had to be fully searched, (shoes and all) walk through metal detectors, and could carry nothing in. Once you were in you were fully fenced in, with riot police and cops on horse back.

Out side of this area where protesters that refused to be searched and put in a cage just to protest genocide. Here is where the police were most focused and inevitably, most violent. Other than creative signs and banners, protesters carried instruments, mega-phones, and bucket drums, in order to make a wave of sound so enormous the would be fascists would not be able to hear their own hate message.

In order for the city to justify such a force to the unattending community they needed and example of effectiveness. Jacquelyn Winkler became their scape goat.

The actual incident occurred when without direction or warning the police approached the line of demonstrators and began taking buckets that had been set down by people who were going into the protest pen. As Jacquelyn noticed this happening she moved to grab one of our buckets.The police claim that at this point Jacquelyn attacked a SWAT officer. The truth is without any orders the police came from all sides of this 110 pound womyn, grabbing her hair, and placing her in a head lock then thrashing her to the ground and placing a very heavy knee onto her head causing head injury and loss of consciousness. After the arrest she was carried into the police station. (Under oath, several officers testified that she was flailing wildly trying to get away, other officers claim she was “dead weight”). While being booked Jacquelyn told SWAT officer Relyea she was in pain, he told her she would “be hurting a lot more soon” (he admitted this statement at trial) while he continued to pull her hair. She was later taken to the hospital and treated for head and shoulder injuries then returned to jail. She was released with felony resisting arrest and obstructing. At the preliminary exam the city added another felony. Attempting to disarm an officer. SWAT Officers Beasinger and Eichenberg claimed that during the struggle she managed to get away from 5 large police officers get to her knees and place both hands on officer Beasinger’s gun and tug on it twice. At the pre trial they added even another felony, Successfully disarming an officer. Now they claimed that Jacquelyn actually managed to get the gun from Beasingers holster. This charge was dropped before trial. As for the others, when asked at trial how a 110 pound womyn could over take large officers, Beasinger testified that it was possible if the subject was “drunk or on drugs”. He looked directly at the jury when this was said, actually insinuating that she was intoxicated at the time, even though he made no mention of this in his report. The entire trial lasted 2 days from 8 am to 6pm. in this time a video that was shot by a fellow activists was shown to the jury. IT showed the defenses side clearly. The prosecution tried to combat this tape, by cross examining the author and making laughable statements like “isn’t it amazing how you can miraculously shoot only the parts that fit your story”. And asking irrelevant questions like “do you like police?” and, “so, police are your friends?” Insinuating that while he was being shoved back by police and trying to film, he purposely moved the camera away just before she fought of 5 police and pulled ones gun, and put it back just as the police got her back on the ground. The entire trial went on like this. The prosecutor making irrational statements, and the amazing pro bono defense team shooting them down. One of the highlights of the trial was when one witness testified that the amount of force used to take down Jacquelyn was equal to the amount of force she would expect to be used to take down a “6 foot man with an AK-47” . This witness was not only a lawyer her self, but had lived years of her life in Saudi Arabia. If anyone knew what they were talking about, she did. The jury found Jaquelyn Winkler not guilty on both counts.

I see this trial as an important event in many ways. Most importantly because while it permanently destroys your faith in those in authority, it gives you some desperately needed faith in humanity again. The jurors were not stupid and they didn’t just take the lies that were fed to them just because it was the police, and the city. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that privilege plays a massive role in such situations. We were lucky that our friend, Jacqui, was a white traditionally gendered, straight looking womyn without a record. S**t, it really makes you think about all of the people who don’t fit into that privilege structure. That situations just as irrational and vicious as this actually go through and the authoritarians win. it happens all the time. The jails are full of these stories. However this was a major victory for all protesters everywhere. It sent a very clear message to the cops, that we will fight back, on our turf or on theirs.

Activists (and Rain) Drown out White Supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens in Jackson

Anti-racist activists reported to Media Mouse that they effectively disrupted a planned rally by the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens yesterday in Jackson, Michigan. While the rally was billed as an “anti-affirmative action” rally to build support for the passage of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), the Council was contained within a picnic shelter and failed to spread their message to people in Jackson or recruit new members.

Anti-racist activists have reported to Media Mouse that the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist group with origins in the segregationist White Citizens’ Councils of the south and active recently in Grand Rapids, were effectively disrupted in Jackson, Michigan by the combined presence of a large number of anti-racists and rain. The Michigan Council of Conservative Citizens scheduled the first of two rallies it plans in the state in order to build support for the passage of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) yesterday in Jackson. Anti-racist activists report that they showed up shortly before 2:00pm to the Council’s “Anti-Affirmative Action Rally” to find that the fifteen anti-racists essentially matched the small crowd of Council of Conservative Citizens members and their supporters and the group was consequently easily able to halt the scheduled proceedings of the rally. While there were plans to have speeches followed by a march through Jackson, the activists—holding banners and signs reading “NO MCRI,” “No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” and “CCC is a White Supremacist Organization”—were able to use noise and chanting to interfere with the Council’s rally and effectively limited their ability to both spread their racist message or attempt to recruit additional members.

While much of the rally consisted of activists calling out Council of Conservative Citizens’ members and supporters for their racist agenda and arguing between the two groups, there were a few noteworthy items gleaned from the stories related to Media Mouse. John Raterink of Hastings, the leader of the Michigan chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, confirmed that he has previously supported the neo-Nazi National Alliance by subscribing to their newspaper. While Raterink claimed that he “has no use” for “Klansmen or Nazis,” this statement is at odds both with his support of the National Alliance as well as the attendance of a known neo-Nazi at yesterday’s rally. There was one politician who showed up to give a speech at the rally—Charles “Chuck” Conces, a candidate for Michigan Attorney General with the Constitution Party of Michigan (United States Tax Payers Party)—who said that he was asked to speak by the Council of Conservative Citizens and claimed that he was unaware that they were a white supremacist organization. Despite being told that they were and given information confirming this fact, Conces said the he still hoped that the Council would endorse him in the upcoming election. While Conces denied being a racist and claimed to be unfamiliar with the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) despite both being invited to speak at the a rally in support of the MCRI and being a candidate for attorney general, the Constitution Party’s platform makes it clear that it is of the far right with opposition to taxes, a desire to make the United States a “Christian” country, advocacy of an “English Only” policy, and an opposition to immigration from Mexico. Of course, Conces has little chance of winning for a variety of reasons ranging from his platform to the difficulty of obtaining media coverage for candidates outside of the Democrat and Republican parties, but the presence of a political candidate at the rally is illustrative of the longstanding connections that the Council of Conservative Citizens has maintained with politicians over the years, with Senators Trent Lott and Bob Barr speaking to the organization (among others) in the past.

The Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) was formed in 1985 and is an outgrowth of the racist White Citizens’ Council (WCC) movement that organized to oppose desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. The White Citizens’ Councils attracted nearly one million members by eschewing the overt racism of the Ku Klux Klan and relying on connections to powerful individuals such as bankers, newspaper editors, and politicians to organize in defense of segregation. Nationally, the Council of Conservative Citizens is led by Gordon Lee Baum (a former White Citizen’s Council organizer) and is based in St. Louis. The CofCC has built its membership in part from old mailing lists from the White Citizen’s Councils and by appealing to conservatives through organizing around contentious issues such as affirmative action, immigration, and gun control. Like the White Citizen’s Councils, it maintains a host of racist and white supremacist views with the Council of Conservative Citizens’ its “statement of principles” including the belief that “the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character,” a vehement opposition to immigration from “non-European and non-Western peoples” as it “threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime,” and an opposition to “all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.” The group’s statement of principles also includes opposition to “multiculturalist” or “Afrocentric” curricula in schools and an opposition to homosexuality, which they describe as a “perversion.”

The Michigan Council of Conservative Citizens appears to be a relatively new white supremacist organization in the state, with John Raterink registering the domain for their website – micofcc.org – and yesterday’s anti-affirmative action rally being their second public event. The group previously held a private July 4 picnic in 2005 in Nashville, Michigan and an anti-immigration rally in Grand Rapids in May of 2006. Based on attendance at the two public events and the number of anti-racist activists compared with the number of Council of Conservative Citizens members, it would seem that the group has little constituency in the state of Michigan, despite the Raterink’s organizing efforts. Indeed, while Raterink works closely with the national office of the Council of Conservative Citizens, speaking at the 2006 National Convention on the topic of “Keeping Christ in the Family” and hosting their “Citizen’s Supply Shop” that sells Council of Conservative Citizens’ merchandise, his organizing within the state seems to have made little progress.

Nazi Rally Cost State Police $171,000

According to reporting in the corporate media, Saturday’s Nazi rally in Lansing by the National Socialist Movement (NSM), cost the Michigan State Police $171,000. The amount includes $105,000 spent on police overtime for the 221 officers provided by the Michigan State Police and $2,512 to fuel one of two helicopters that patrolled protestors. The city of Lansing has estimated that they spent $75,000 on the rally, including $25,000 for “equipment” and $50,000 for overtime to pay for police and fire officials. City officials in Lansing have publicly stated that the expenses were “worth it” as the massive security presence prevented violence and consequently upheld the city’s reputation. Of course, questions remain regarding how Lansing is going to pay for the security costs, with the city having a $11 million budget deficit for 2007 and Mayor Virg Bernero already proposing that less money be spent on roadwork, cemetery maintenance, and other such “non-essential” services.

Hundreds Protest Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement in Lansing

On Saturday, around 80 members and supporters of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) were met by several hundred protestors at the capitol building in Lansing. Despite media and police fear of “violence,” there were only 16 arrests and minor physical confrontations with Nazi supporters

photo from lansing nazi protest

Hundreds of protestors outnumbered the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) at their national rally on Saturday in Lansing. Before the event, the NSM claimed that they would have over 200 members and supporters in attendance, however, the group mustered well less than 80 members with fewer than 10 supporters for their rally which lasted from about 2:15pm to 4:00pm on the steps of the capitol building. Protestors, who were separated in two groups due to a decision made by some protestors to stay out of the “protest pens” designated by the police, numbered between 600 and 800 according to eyewitness and media accounts.

The protest organized by the Lansing Coalition Against Nazis (LCAN) began at 12:30pm in Riverfront Park at the corner of Michigan and Grand with a couple brief speeches leading up to a march that left at 1:00pm. The march, which consisted of a couple of hundred people, was quite energetic with drums, several large banners featuring anti-Nazi slogans (“No Nazis, No MCRI [Michigan Civil Rights Initiative],” “No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” “Hate Speech Leads to Hate Crime,” “Nazis Not Welcome”) and several chants led by both march organizers and by people within the crowd. The march ended at the corner of Washington and Michigan where the group initially moved towards one of the security checkpoints and then moved back once it seemed that the police were maneuvering to contain the march. The march, after a brief confrontation with one Nazi supporter that resulted in one arrest, eventually settled at this spot for what essentially was a rally held outside the protest in an attempt to setup a “noise blockade” against the Nazis. It is hard to measure the effectiveness of the noise blockade because protest participants were unable to hear the Nazis but there were reports from arrested protestors that they could hear the Nazis while in jail (the jail was located right next to the crowd). The crowd’s energy was kept high with chants such as “Fuck the Aryan Nation,” “No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist Us,” “Hey Nazis, What’s Up, What’s Up, You’ve Come to our Town and we’re going to Fuck you Up,” “Cops and Klan, Hand in Hand,” and “Up, Up with the People, and Down, Down, with the Nazis.” Throughout this rally, the cops moved into arrest people wearing bandanas or to confiscate banners and other supplies in several small police-initiated scuffles. Short impromptu speeches also addressed the obligation of people to work in the communities that the Nazis are targeting—primarily those who have been victimized by global capitalism and who have been targeted by the Nazis’ rhetoric of scapegoating.

Following the end of the Nazis rally, several protestors who were inside of the designated protest pen (some of whom toppled the fence designed to protect the Nazis) joined up with the LCAN sponsored protest and began rapidly marching through the streets near the capitol building in search of Nazis or their supporters. The march frequently turned in to a running group with several people surging ahead to confront Nazi supporters, many of whom were spit on, hit with construction fences, punched, or hit with rocks before people were able to move in to protect the Nazi supporters and disperse protestors. During these scuffles a police van got its window smashed after the police used it to shelter a beaten Nazi supporter, prompting mounted and riot police to move in to push the group east of Washington. The group decided to march towards Eastern High School to join the city sponsored “Diversity Rally” in an unpermitted march that stopped traffic along Shiawassee and garnered a show of support from community members along the route. As the group approached the Diversity Rally, the police positioned several dozen riot police armed with rubber bullet guns, tear gas, and batons in order to prevent the marchers from joining up with the rally. In the days before the rally, the police and city said they would allow the Nazis to attend the Diversity Rally but they restricted protestors demonstrating against the Nazis from entering and later portrayed the group as a “mob” in the media. After the group was denied access to the Diversity Rally it marched to intersection of Michigan and Grand, where the several dozen riot police and state police moved in and an order was given to disperse from the park or be arrested. Protestors dispersed at that point because there was nothing to be gained by continuing the protest.

The corporate media, which spent several weeks both in Lansing and in Michigan as a whole focusing on security preparations, largely focused their post-rally coverage on how the police prevented violence and kept “order” during the protest. Even in light of the physical attacks on at least three Nazi supporters, the media stuck to this line and downplayed the arrests of sixteen protestors, instead choosing to emphasize the success of the preparations of state and local police. While all media reports on the rally prominently featured the protests, it was rare that they did so in any substantive manner, instead choosing to quote people who discussed the need to come out and show “love” in the face of hate. In the same manner that media failed to fully engage the reasons why groups organized against the Nazis, media reports also failed to engage the substance of Nazism and instead reported on the Nazis as if they were just another political party or group in United States and not a movement based on an ideology responsible for the deaths of some six million people in concentration camps. The corporate media described how the NSM promised that they would “close the borders” because “the people” allegedly want the borders closed and that the NSM will participate in upcoming elections in the United States. The reporting largely ignored the NSM’s racism, despite the fact that racism is the crux of their ideology and political movement.

The NSM has announced that it plans further rallies and activities in Michigan. The NSM initially expressed considerable frustration with the way the rally went, citing the fact that the strict security allegedly kept away their supporters, that the media underplayed their numbers, and that multiple supporters were physically beaten leaving the rally. The NSM plans to hold an organizational meeting for new members in Lansing within the next two weeks, citing what they termed an “amazing” response with three-dozen inquiries coming from Michigan residents. Earlier in the week, anti-racist and anti-fascist activists protested the NSM in Grand Rapids and exposed Ken Mathews, a Grand Rapids resident who leads the Southeast Michigan Unit of the NSM. The Michigan NSM, termed “Unit Hitler” by the NSM’s spokesperson Bill White was given a “Unit Award” for its rapid growth and its contributions to the Nazi movement.

Photos from the protest